EXPERT SECRETS | Karyn Calabrese of Karyn's Raw

KARYN CALABRESE is the sexagenarian who opened (according to Karyn) America's first raw restaurant in 1992 in Chicago of all places. Since then, business-headed Calabrese has created something of a raw health and wellness empire that encompasses a shop, spa, three restaurants, supplement and nutritional ranges and makeup. As the walking talking poster-woman for the lifestyle she promotes, packages and sells, I buy into it wholesale. She radiates energy from her honed figure and crease-less, youthful face, has the lithe body of a dancer 30 years her junior, hasn't been ill in decades and possesses an earnest passion that would put most university-aged idealist to shame. 

We talked with Karyn to get a few of her top tips and secrets just for you, so pull up a chair and a mug of tea to hear what this living, breathing fountain of youth has to say...  

BWM: What's your favorite way to treat yourself to a sweet and/or snack on a raw diet?

KC: Is there a specific food or recipe that is great? A specific brand or product?

During the 25 years I’ve been a raw foodist I’ve created hundreds of delicious raw snacks for myself and for sale in my store. My all time favourite are my Kale Chips. It’s simply raw kale marinated in lemon juice, sea salt and raw honey and then dehydrated. They are sweet, salty and crispy and so satisfying.

BWM: What exercise class/gym do you recommend to people or do yourself and why?  

KC: Ballet is my passion. I take a professional adult ballet class at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. I also do and recommend that everyone take a great yoga class. We have a teacher at my center, Janice Cadwell, who’s phenomenal. Her classes blend Vinyasa yoga, meditation and Pranayama (breath work). For a great Iyengar class I love The Yoga Circle in River North.

BWM: Where's the best place in Chicago for a bit of Zen?

KC: I’ve created a whole world around myself to stay Zen. I stay healthy and grounded at my Inner Beauty Center where I have an infrared sauna, ozone bath and many other amazing therapies. My other favorite place for zen is the Chicago lakefront. In the summer there’s no better place.

BWM: Do you have any teas, hot drinks or cold drinks you drink every day? 

KC: My biggest focus everyday is getting lots of greens. Greens are healing and alkalizing. My favorites are a smoothie with my Karyn’s Green Meal Powder or my Karyn’s Green Kamut. I also love High Country Kombucha. It helps calm my stress.

BWM: What is your favourite hidden shopping spot or boutique in Chicago?

KC: I love Intermix. It has the best clothes and customer service It’s not really a hidden secret but it’s a small boutique with a great selection. I always joke that I eat the way I do to wear gorgeous clothes as much as to feel healthy. 

BWM: Do you use or recommend any at-home fitness or wellness DVDs?

KC: I use Rodney Yee’s AM Yoga DVD everyday. I think it’s a wonderful way to start your day with light movement. It’s only 15 minutes long so no matter what your day is like you can get it done. It’s something to easily commit to on a consistent basis.

BWM: Where do you go for beauty treatments?

KC: The reason I opened my Inner Beauty Center was to make sure I could get beauty treatments without chemicals. I have wonderful estheticians and therapists who do natural manicures, pedicures and facials. I do facials regularly with our myopulse machine, which restores collagen and smooths out fine lines and wrinkles without botox or surgery!

I have a wonderful stylist, Ricardo Alvarado, who comes to my house to do my hair.

BWM: Where's your favorite outdoor place/gym, etc. to exercise during the summer?

KC: My favorite place to exercise outdoors in the summer is the lake front in Chicago. I walk on the beach or play ball with my dog.

BWM: Is there a non-raw healthy restaurant you love? 

KC: I love going to Charlie Trotter’s. It’s a great date place for my husband and I because they offer their normal menu as well as accommodating my special dietary requests. They even do an all raw menu option. The quality of the food and service is beyond great. It’s a place everyone should experience.

BWM: Do you have a favorite place for cocktails that are healthier?

KC: Well I don’t drink alcohol but the big emphasis at my new restaurant, Karyn’s on Green, is on fresher healthier (but still delicious) cocktails and mocktails. We use ingredients like aloe, kombucha and fresh herbs in our drinks. Our wine list focuses on sustainable and organic selections.

Find out more about Karyn's.